Photo Credit: Sharita Jennings
Digital Nomad Mentor Sharita Jennings Shares How To Really Move Abroad
With 2023 in full swing, many people are working on executing their game plans for the new year. Sharita Jennings is a digital nomad mentor who helps people turn their dream of living overseas into a reality. From her detailed ebooks to 1-1strategy coaching, Jennings knows the top tips and hacks for living in another country.
She has shared some in-depth insight and advice with Travel Noire.
How does someone pick the best digital nomad destination?
I typically advise my clients to think about three overall things when choosing their destination: (1) Cost + Quality of Living, (2) Diversity/Openness, and (3) Their Must-Haves.
First and foremost, you should always check in with your wallet before you move abroad. If you earn USD, there are many countries where you can stretch your dollar further than in the U.S. Popular affordable destinations include Colombia, Bali, Thailand, and Mexico.
Next, for my fellow Black digital nomads, diversity and openness is very important. It’s a good idea to find Black bloggers and vloggers who share the inside scoop about living somewhere while Black. Of course, everyone won’t have the same experience, but if you see a trend of racism, it may be worth avoiding that location, or at least being more careful about your move.
And finally, I advise clients to look at their “must-haves.” I’ll ask them if they prefer hot or cold weather, beach or city, what languages they speak or want to learn, and the types of cultures they identify with. This is a rare opportunity to think about what you need to thrive and build your life around that!
How does someone budget as a digital nomad?
People often assume that moving to an affordable country means budgets no longer matter. But even if you move to a very affordable country, you can blow through your savings with lavish apartments, trips, and constantly eating out. For this reason, I advise new (and experienced) nomads to first set a monthly budget and then consider sticking to a daily budget.
When you’re preparing to move, you should estimate your monthly expenses (rent, groceries, co-working, entertainment, and travel) and then put away at least three months’ worth. You never want to end up broke and desperate in someone else’s country, as your options for assistance may be limited.
Then, once you’re settled in your new destination, I think it’s important to set a daily budget so you can keep your spending under control. There’s something about being in a new place that makes you want to see and do everything, which can burn a hole through your wallet fast. I try to cap my daily spending to $10-$20 depending on where I’m living, and this is about what I spend at a cafe for working, and one small meal out.
What are a few steps people should take when deciding to move abroad?
For anyone who is serious about moving abroad, I advise them to set a Move Abroad Date and work backward from there. Your Move Abroad Date may need to be 6 -12 months out if you need to save money, do your research, or wait for some other life event to conclude (graduations, leases, selling property, etc). Once you have that date, everything should start to fall in place because you’re working towards something real, rather than just dreaming.
After choosing a Move Abroad Date, the next thing to tackle is how you’ll support yourself abroad. Will you work remotely for a U.S. company, get a job in your new country, or start your own business? Whatever the answer, you’ll want to map out a plan to achieve that goal. I suggest that you land the job or start the business before you move, unless you have a lot of money put away.
And finally, I advise aspiring nomads to make connections in their new city. When you’re 1-2 months away from your move, you can start to join expat and digital nomad groups in your new city, and find like-minded people who you can build a community with.
What’s the best way to find remote work?
There are two things that remote job seekers can do to improve their remote job search. The first is to use job search engines that are catered to remote jobs. While popular sites like Indeed.com and LinkedIn.com include remote positions, it takes some effort to weed through the “hybrid” and “temporarily remote” roles. Instead, I advise aspiring digital nomads to turn to sites that only list remote roles, like FlexJobs.com and Remote.co, to name a few. I’ve included over a dozen websites for remote job seekers in my 10 Step Guide to Finally Move Abroad.
The second thing remote job seekers can do is turn to tech. While a lot of the old companies are going back to in-office work arrangements, the tech sector is staying remote for the long haul. You can find tech companies across industries like healthcare, e-commerce, finance, climate, education, and pretty much any industry you can think of. Roles within tech companies aren’t just for software developers. There are opportunities for recruiters, attorneys, customer service specialists, HR professionals, project managers, marketing experts, and so many more. The hard part is finding the tech companies that are hiring, which is one thing I help my 1:1 clients with.
How does someone overcome the fear of moving abroad?
The easiest way to overcome the fear of moving abroad is to find more people who have already done it. If you follow influencers who look like you and have successfully moved abroad, it makes it seem less scary and more possible for you to do the same. I did just that before I moved to Medellin, Colombia. I looked up Black, solo, female travelers who had lived in Medellin so that I could feel safer about my decision and have a better idea of what to expect. And the Black expat community was so strong there that I ended up becoming good friends with one of my favorite Medellin YouTubers.
How have you built a community as a digital nomad?
Community abroad or lack thereof can make or break your experience in a new country. I always follow the same community-building steps when I land in a new place: First, I join Facebook groups for women, digital nomads, and/or Black expats in my new city. I usually start joining them a month before I move, and start posting when I arrive. (Don’t be that person who asks to meet for coffee in six months). Then, I post in those groups, asking if anyone wants to meet for coffee or coworking and I do that until I have a few core friends to hang out with.
Next, I seek out my hobbies in my new city, which for me are always the gym and salsa dancing. This way, I end up spending time with the same people, and form some new friendships over time.
Lastly, I reach out to my network and let people know that I’m moving. Someone always knows someone who lives in my new city, or even better, I find out that an old friend has moved to my next destination and we pick up where we left off. Being Black and abroad automatically puts you in an exclusive club of like-minded people, so you’re rarely alone no matter where you move.